If we think of Hades or Hell as the capital city of Satan’s kingdom of darkness wherein his demon’s live and torture the souls of the deceased, we have accidentally borrowed some imagery from Greek mythology. In Isaiah 38, the term “gates of Sheol” is a metaphor for the passage between life and death.
The Master’s miracles seemed to leap from the prophecies of Isaiah: “The ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy” (Isaiah 35:5-6). Some of his miracles, however, illustrated aspects of his mission and teaching.
The Master regarded a person who hosted His disciples and heeded their words as if he or she had hosted Him and listened directly to His teaching. The apostles officially represented Him, and receiving an apostle is the same as receiving the one who sent him.
After telling His disciples that they must be ready to lay down their lives in martyrdom for His sake, even if it meant crucifixion, He warned them that if they tried to save their lives by denying their faith, they would lose their life in the World to Come.
Believers sometimes speak about difficult situation which must be patiently endured as one’s “cross to bear.” For example, a person might say, “I guess my poor health is just my cross to bear.” In the days of the disciples, however, the saying had a more specific implication.
Yeshua told his disciples that they need to hate their families to follow Him. This is a hard saying—nearly incomprehensible outside of the Jewish context. Does the Master really require us to harbor contempt for our family before we can follow Him in discipleship? Does He call only hateful and bitter disciples?
The prophets say that the Messiah will initiate an era of world peace during which “the wolf will dwell with the lamb” and the nations will hammer their swords into plowshares. “Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and...
The Roman government instituted a policy of arresting people suspected of faith in Messiah and interrogating them before a tribunal. If a suspected “Christian” disowned the name of Yeshua and bowed to an idol, the Roman authorities released him or her. If not, the disciple faced a death sentence.
Yeshua knew that the disciples and the generations to come after them would face times of intense persecution. At those times, it might seem as if God had lost control of events or forgotten about them. At times, tribulation or tragedy would be so great that it might appear as if God’s protection had failed.